Series: Bottled Up 07
Author: Andrew Grey
Genre: Contemporary Mystery/FBI Drama
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: Novel, 200 pages
Heat Level: Moderate to Explicit
Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥4.25 out of 5Hearts
Blurb: Frank Jennings is an FBI agent looking for redemption. Leslie Carlton is an Interpol agent looking for a thief. Attraction flares from the moment they meet on a case searching for a stolen triptych of unique Tiffany windows, but after a single night of stunning passion, Leslie is called back to London to continue his search there.
When the case heats up again, Leslie returns to the States—and to Frank—but their investigation is complicated by their tumultuous feelings. Is it possible for two dedicated detectives to pursue each other while they’re tracking down stolen art and the unscrupulous man who steals it?
Review: This is the first of the books in this Art Series that I’ve actually read, and it will not be the last. Frank Jennings, an FBI agent who feels a bit of disgrace and need for justification and redemption amongst his peers, is forced to team up with Leslie Carlton, an Interpol agent who’s been hot on the trail of a particular art thief for over 10 years. This thief works through others for the acquisition of unique Tiffany windows, and, until the theft in the United States, had been difficult on which to obtain tenable leads. Through the (reluctant) pairing of Frank & Les, helped by some great secondary characters (namely Karl, an FBI agent and computer guru), they do end up capturing the thief, recovering the windows, and going on to recover other art work stolen over the past several years by that same thief.
At first, I wasn’t sure if I liked either man. Frank had a major chip on his shoulder, helped along by a case going horribly wrong due to incorrect information he acted on without being able to check out the source first, and the ribbing inside the department. He was not the closet about his sexuality, but never had any need before to voice it either. At his core, he liked to make home-cooked meals, close to his family, and hid a surprisingly strong Dom personality. Leslie was a British foreigner, who had 10 years on a man seemingly as difficult to capture as the wind in a glass atomizer, transplanted to the States with one goal in mind, and reticent about his background with Interpol or his family in the beginning. It’s obvious, however, these are 2 very good guys working on the right side of the law, and almost the very beginning, became caught up in an attraction with either other, and with justice, which spanned several continents. The men grew on me as the story progressed, and as they came to learn more about each other (e.g. both men’s fear of failure, Frank’s fear of misplaced attraction and love, Leslie’s fear of loss of his identity), I saw their future path together, but with Les’ home & work overseas, and Frank’s in the States, how would it actually work out best for both men? Or would they truly be forced to give the other up? How the author worked the story plot, weaving the Tiffany windows theft and plan for recovery, in this love story was brilliant. I deduced there were characters from his previous Art stories involved as secondary characters in this novel, and one didn’t necessarily have to have read the other stories to enjoy this one. I enjoyed the snappy dialogue between the two main characters, especially the ‘dressing down’ Les gave Frank in the office, behind ‘closed doors’, showing that while Les is by nature quiet and a bit elusive, he isn’t a pushover. Frank opening up to Karl, and their eventual friendship and partnership on & off the job, was one of the best parts of the book, because it showed Frank starting to visibly care for others, become a bit more vulnerable, put faith in his team and not solely in himself, thus allowing Karl to show himself as a great FBI agent, and Frank a great FBI leader. (I do hope the author plans to write about Karl in a future novel).
I’m not one for BDSM or D/s novels much, because I always feel they’re unbalanced, and therefore think one person is at a disadvantage to the other. This novel had a lot of D/s under (and perhaps over-) tones to me, but it seemed very balanced—both men strong, established in their careers of leadership & power, both with something to prove, both handsome, both vulnerable—and the sex between the two men was spicy, caring, and delicious.
I really enjoyed the novel, the intrigue of the Tiffany windows theft, and the fact that the series isn’t over—if you like a bit of D/s in the relationship, strong men with chips on their shoulders hiding a bit of vulnerability, witty dialogue, and a mystery to solve, this is the book for you.